About that: Lack of evolution in games



  • So this is first part of my personal rant about what I hate in certain video games and how it could be fixed. Those are all my own personal viewpoints and a lot of you will probably disagree with many of them. But I'm gonna tell them anyway ;)
    I would like to begin with certain aspects of games that may have overstayed their welcome. Or did they?

    1.Side scrollers and 2D platformers
    Now I know I will get a lot of hate for this, but I generally hate these games. Why? Because there are so many better games. The development and evolution of games is directly tied to technology and as technology improves, so do video games. Sure there have also been many disasters of games, but the number of games on the market is undeniably increasing. And in this wide gap of quality that is continuously being filled, there is no any more time for games. The Ok games are simply overlooked and while good games get acknowledged, they are rarely picked. Good is not good enough anymore. If a game is any less than an 8/10, it's generally considered not worth of our time and money.
    I appreciate the genre as it is the root of most (if not all) games we can play today, but I have moved on and they are past their expiration date.
    I consider the makers of the games in this genre (and the following ones) today to be either:
    -Lazy, as they are not using all tools that are available for game development.
    -Poor(er). Game development is expensive, I understand that. But They must understand also that the less they'll invest into their game, the less they'll gain back (depending on what they want to gain back)
    -Old-fashioned/Stubborn. Look, I'm glad that you've find something you really enjoy and appreciate. But the world is moving along and people will follow. If we would not, we would still be using sticks and stones as our only tool (and then there would really be no video games to play) :(
    One more thing I really don't like with platforms in a game is when they're just some black blocks.
    alt text
    There is no context. One (there are probably more) exception is Limbo, because entire game is black&white, and even more so, it's still visually appealing.

    However, even though I said many negative things, there are ways to make games of these genres right. Some examples:

    -Ori and the Blind Forest
    A little cute creature, trying to renew the forest. This game is amazing, true masterpiece. It's visually pleasing, controls are good, the soundtrack is mesmerising and the story is wonderful. Like... wow! Emotional.
    alt text
    Gametrailers composer interview
    Gametrailers review

    -Oxenfree
    My GOTY, until Dark Souls 3. There is so much dialogue that I barely had a time to judge it for being a 2D game, and even then, I was too immersed in the story or the aesthetics. And the voice acting... spot on.
    alt text
    Gametrailers developer interview
    Gametrailers review

    -Donkey Kong Country: Tropical freeze.
    If Ori is the Uncharted 4 of platformers, then Donkey Kong is Overwatch. It's main focus is pure fun and enjoyment, it's visualy pleasing, but not pushing any boundaries, and the tone is overall extremely jolly.
    alt text
    Gametrailers review

    2.Pixel games
    Along with the last point, also usually comes another thing that I don't like: Pixel graphics. My argument is pretty much the same as with 2D platforms: Been there, done that. Move along already.
    Both these genres I consider to be "browser games". I mean, you can find many games that are as good or even better on pages as Armorgames, Newgrounds etc., than many games you find on Steam, PSN etc. Making games has also become easier and more accessible than ever, with programs like RPG maker and as the number of them grows and time moves forward, my interest is decreasing accordingly.

    Now here I'm supposed to put a pixel game that I actually like, but damn this is hard. Stardew Valley is a very popular game, that I simply can't bring myself to like. It looks sooo old! And it has all things that i hate in retro RPGs. Houses are unproportionate to the characters, inside there are black spaces between walls (hate those), you can see in other rooms, even though you are not in them, texted conversation and it's that old UI again.
    -Undertale I tried to play, but I quickly stopped. While it has clever ideas, the fighting just seems to long and the game is overall overstretched.
    -Hyperlight drifter: I want to like this game. I really do, but it ultimately fails. On moments it looks amazing, but then in the other scenes, the color combinations just don't click. the combat works and feels great, but doesn't compensate for it's weaknesses in the same measure like Oxenfree does. And while with Ori, all elements of the game click perfectly, there is none of that here.
    So I will mention a game from our favorite edgelord:
    -Ghosts need sheets
    I admit: I would not even look at this game, if it wasn't made by Ian. But the game works surprisingly well. The story is decent, the characters are superb, the soundtrack is surprisingly catchy and the puzzles are fun.
    alt text
    Plus the new game from Ian: Charity will come out soon, and if the first game is any good indicator, I will gladly checked the second one too.

    But what about Minecraft? True, Minecraft also belongs into this category and it's a pixel game that I enjoyed for a long time, simply because the endless possibilities of what you can create and places you can shape outweigh its primitive appearance. Still, one of my dream games is Minecraft that would have actual graphics.

    3.Turn-based combat
    The system/genre has for me the same problem as the first two: It's simply outdated. The fact is that it's far behind the active/real-time combat, as long it's polished. And once you experience a good one, it's hard to go back. Many games can burn themselves real-time combat, but those with turn-based one (usually) don't even try to excel at it. Popular franchises like Pokemon and Final Fantasy have become identifiable with it, so you can imagine how happy I was (while making many others angry) when I learned that Final Fantasy XV will abandon its old combat style. Ultimately, this kind of combat puts more emphasis on calculation and stats of a fighter, than actual skill.
    There must be a way to improve the overused method of choosing an action and wait for the animation to end. And it is. Here are some games that show potential of improving this system. Note that I focused on the RPGs, as I more approve the turn-based system in strategy games, where in my opinion, still functions properly, and is more suited for (Including XCOM 2. While it does present some nice refreshed elements to combat, it is imo far more oriented to the strategy genre)

    -Valkyria Chronicles: A mixture of strategy and RPG. I mention it here, because I believe it puts a much bigger emphasis on characters, character development and story overall compared to XCOM 2. Additional dialogue and voice acting helps as well.
    The ability to reposition a character is great to make combat more expansive, but it didn't stop there. Enemy units can react accordingly and can shoot you, while you are moving from one cover to another. You can do the same to them, of course.
    And you can actually aim and preform headshots for additional damage among other things that make combat more exciting than than a classic version.
    alt text
    EZA review

    -South Park: The Stick of Truth:
    There are two reasons for mentioning this game. First is that it conveniently adds an otherwise pretty unpopular element of gaming to the combat: quick-time events. And it works wonders You are actually actively effecting the combat and not only watching swords swinging from both sides. And secondly, seeing a gameplay for the sequel at E3 this conference, The Fractured But Whole will present even more advanced fighting that could make turn-based combat not only bearable, but also extremely enjoyable.
    alt text
    Gametrailers review

    -Joe Dever's Lone Wolf HD Remastered:
    I have only recently encountered this gem. Your turn is timed an even then enemies can attack during it. You are also not limited to a single action, but it's your job to throw out as many spells and slashes in timely fashion, while maintaining health and energy for spells and weapon actions.
    But beside the amazing encounters, the characters are great, the story extremely interesting, even though it's presented through written text and manipulated through your decision of how will you engage an enemy or the specific path you'll take to the next destination. It looks as it plays: fantastic.
    alt text

    I think these 3 game elements that we've overgrown, but are still holding us will do it for now. But while the features are outdated, I don't think they are not necessarily bad, and I hope that I've proved that. With little twists, even an old dog can learn a new trick. Whether you might agree with me, or you'll still hold to the retro games, it's up to you.

    Edit: This was added as a reply to a post from @Pacifist_Elk since there will probably be many who might have similar opinions:

    Original post by @Pacifist_Elk : "I believe there is room for all types of games. Why limit artstyles and gameplay mechanics to "modern" just for the sake of being modern? Games can be whatever or however they want, as long as they are good. Specifically dealing with the complaint about turn based systems- That is a unique type of gameplay that cannot be replicated in real time, by definition. Saying Turn Based is outdated and should be changed to real time is akin to saying Chess or Monopoly being turn based is outdated and those board games and new board games should all be converted to real time. Card Games like Magic the Gathering must be outdated too- Turns!? screw that noise, make it real time! Now you know those statements are absurd, because pretty much everything that makes those games work and fucntion and fun is the turn based nature of it all. Some systems in real time are simply chaotic. There is room in the industry for both Turn Based works and Real-Time works, especially considering both are entirely different, and have completely different strengths and weaknesses."

    My reply:
    "Why limit artstyles and gameplay mechanics to "modern" just for the sake of being modern?" Same can be said for the opposite: why limit a game to "oldschool" just for the sake of being "oldschool"? Games are ultimately getting better with time and technology improvements and although there are many examples that are badly made even today and have modern graphics and mechanics, but I still have to play many great games, because there are so many of them, and simply good isn't gonna cut it right now, compared to the newer masterpieces. Sure there is always more space for good games, but who's gonna judge if they're good or not? You? Me? Reviews? Sale numbers? For myself, I'm deciding for myself that a lot games in the above genres or utilising very old elements are bad and I don't like them. You are free to disagree and have your own opinion of course.

    And about your critique about turn based: Did you even read what I wrote?! I specifically talked about turn based combat in video games. Putting board games in the same basket is simply stupid here, since they are completely different things. Card games also require at least two party turns and I said already that strategy games can still properly work with turn based system. Board games require turn based system to properly function (now that I think about it, board games without turns seems like an interesting concept, but I'm not sure if it could be utilised correctly). And for the record: I like many board games and strategy games that use turn based system and I think they work great.
    "Some systems in real time are simply chaotic" And some (in my opinion most) turn based combat games are simply dull.
    I'm not saying that there is no place for turn based system, but people should know where they work. Don't put turn based combat in RPGs and don't put real time play in board games, for people will just scream over each other (Then again, I am intrigued if someone would actually try to completely remove this method from board games, but I doubt it would end well).


    So next time when someone decides to simply comment something like "Oh, you hate these games. I like these games and I think you are dumb because of..." please, do actually read what I wrote. I really want to think that this community is better than random haters of the internet.

    Remember: Play what you want to play.

    L&R



  • I have to completely disagree with you, I prefer side scrolling, pixel art and turn based anything over most other so called modern gaming.
    Pixel art has gotten way better over time, to me its an art style choice and a good game is never held back by it. Most 3d games to me look all the same and its just gotten boring to look at, so when some beautifully made 2d game goes by in a montage of trailers Its always the first thing I remember and seek out.
    Side-scrollers has also gotten better over time, I play them over 3d games any day of the week. I also prefer 2d side-scrollers over those 3d or 2.5d (stupid name) ones. Ive played side-scrollers with level design that blows lots of 3d games out of the water.
    Turn based has its place, I personally play turn based rpgs over action rpgs. Lots of action rpgs have the most boring combat that almost always requires no skill or tactics. I like to take a drink of coffee and have a chill time, turn based will always fill that void. Games like Xcom and Civilization or any 4X strategy games will always keep turn based games around forever.
    For those 3 things you dont like that I love and prefer are no different then what you think are modern day gaming mechanics. You can come up with examples of good and bad games on both sides. Fun game-play, cool or interesting characters, good story, solid controls, a fully thought out game, good sounds and music are always above graphics and what the game is.
    To me its just a way to tell your story, display your artistic intent or make a fun and enjoyable time. Evolution of gaming happens when its meant to, to me first person shooters haven't evolved much since the early days. (not to confused with first person adventures)



  • Although I do agree that a lot of indie and even AAA games take the easy way out and design sloppy games using dated mechanics, however, as @GeoFlame pointed out, the mechanics you mentioned have been gradually improving over the years.

    Games like Super Meat Boy and many other pixel art games would not have been possible back in the day due to the constrains of technology. Even today, there are a lot of constraints for game developers and designing in a fully 3D environment can become VERY expensive. Hence, many developers artificially force constraints on themselves to make games within budget.

    One example of a cool retro-modern design is a game I recently got to see a game dev conference. It is called Seven: Days Long Gone. Here is a short clip:

    Youtube Video

    The game devs said that they wanted to create an isometric game (we had those in the mid 90s at least) but soon found out that the game just felt too flat. Hence, they decided to add in beautiful panoramas. But they couldn't do them like in the Witcher or other 3D games because they already had the isometric constraint. So, they just went down and layered the game, so that you could still feel like you're playing a modern game while still maintaining their original isometric intent:

    Seven

    So, I guess what I want to say is that while I do agree that many game devs have become sloppy, the mechanics and game design methods you mentioned are just tools that can be used to great effect or .... NOT ;)



  • These are all sylizations in my opinion. Just as you can like a game that reviewed poorly, you can think a game that has pixels (which aren't pretty) can still look good.

    I agree that there aspects are things that turn me off of a game, but I don't think I would call a game bad just because I didn't want to play it.



  • Let me add to that that nobody should watch Citizen Kane or Casablanca because they're in black and white. And Schindler's List, Raging Bull, etc...they're just trying to push substandard films by appealing to nostalgia. And stuff like Clerks, or Following, or Pi? Look, I understand they were little indie movies by first-time filmmakers with tiny crews and tinier budgets, but they should understand that the less they invest in their movies, the less they'll get back. Not like any of those kicked off any long, distinguished lucrative careers, right? If I see a new movie shot in black and white, whether for stylistic or budgetary reasons, I'm not even gonna bother. I mean who has time for outdated technology when there's so many colorful flashy CGI superhero spectacles coming out constantly?



  • I believe there is room for all types of games. Why limit artstyles and gameplay mechanics to "modern" just for the sake of being modern? Games can be whatever or however they want, as long as they are good. Specifically dealing with the complaint about turn based systems- That is a unique type of gameplay that cannot be replicated in real time, by definition. Saying Turn Based is outdated and should be changed to real time is akin to saying Chess or Monopoly being turn based is outdated and those board games and new board games should all be converted to real time. Card Games like Magic the Gathering must be outdated too- Turns!? screw that noise, make it real time! Now you know those statements are absurd, because pretty much everything that makes those games work and fucntion and fun is the turn based nature of it all. Some systems in real time are simply chaotic. There is room in the industry for both Turn Based works and Real-Time works, especially considering both are entirely different, and have completely different strengths and weaknesses.



  • @Pacifist_Elk I posted a reply directly through the blog, if you might be interested



  • @Nillend My Reply to your Reply, You say that some turn based combat games are simply dull. That is completely true! You know what else is dull? Some real time combat games! Its not about whether it is turn based or real time, it is about the quality of the system and how well it fits into the rest of the game and the world. Final Fantasy XV looks to be an excellent action RPG. Persona 5 looks like an incredible turn based masterpiece. Final Fantasy XV isn't going to be better or worst because its action based instead of turned based- it will be better or worst depending on the overall quality of the game vs the overall quality of Persona 5. Turn Based is its out genre. It is not inherently inferior or worse than other systems- it is simply another type of gameplay altogether.